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Football in Tennessee’s “second season” has arrived as the TSSAA state playoffs begin this Friday.

Crossville’s Stone Memorial Panthers will travel to Marshall County for a first-round matchup with the Tigers in the Class 4A playoffs.

“They’re a tremendous football team,” SMHS coach Derik Samber said of Marshall County. “They’re big and physical up front and fast on the perimeter.”

A season ago, the Panthers and Tigers faced off in the first round with Marshall County pulling off the upset in overtime, 30-29. SMHS was the No. 1 seed in Region 3-4A, while the Tigers were the No. 4. This year, the roles are reversed as Marshall comes in as the No. 1 seed in Region 4-4A.

“We’re on the other side of that this year,” said Samber. “We’re the one having to make the long road trip with the opportunity to play spoiler.”

Stone Memorial enters Friday’s contest 3-7, while Marshall County comes in at 8-2.

“This has been a year of growth,” said Samber. “We’ve had the second-toughest schedule in the state. It’s been good for our kids.”

The formula for a Panther victory is mistake-free football.

“We ask a lot of our quarterback (Bryant Carter) but he’s got better every week,” Samber said. “We need him to play mistake free and make a play or two for us.”

Stone Memorial at Marshall County will kick off in Lewisburg at 7 p.m.

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